JUST weeks after supermarket giant Asda lodged long-awaited plans for a new store, the owner of Newport Football Club’s ground has stepped forward with a rival proposal.
South Coast Leisure (SCL), which bought the club from administrators eight years ago and has since spent some £600,000 keeping it afloat, hopes to entice Asda to its neighbouring site, also off St George’s Way, and use some of the proceeds to relocate the club to a new home.
It is due to submit an alternative planning application to the IW Council in the new year.
SCL spokesman Steve Carey said the company’s proposal was superior because it would enable Asda to build a bigger store, using the extra two acres of available space, with 170 more parking spaces.
It would also provide easier access for cyclists and pedestrians and eliminate the need to realign the Pan access road.
"Both sites would provide for Asda’s store but we believe our site would give a better shopping experience, is superior in planning terms, will look better and integrates more closely with the town centre," he said.
Asda could not be reached for a comment due to the Christmas holiday.
As previously reported, the supermarket giant’s current plans for a 45,000 sq ft superstore include a petrol station and cafe, as well as green technology and a landscaping plan to reduce its impact on the environment.
Up to 450 jobs are expected to be created at the superstore, with many more likely during its construction.
The site of SCL’s proposal includes land owned by the IW Council, already approved for the development, and Newport FC’s St George’s Park ground.
SCL, a private company owned by Island business people headed by Tony Wake, owner of the former Wake’s carpet superstore, has pledged to use £1m from the sale of its land to Asda to relocate the football club to a new site in the town, with facilities that could be shared by the community.
Since buying the site, SCL had been in the discussion with the council about finding a long-term home for the club, said Mr Carey.
Newport FC chairman Paul Phelps welcomed the news, and said a new ground would help its chances of promotion.
"The best thing would be to stay where we are, because it’s the club’s home, but we have to move with the times and we are excited about moving to a new ground in Newport area.
"The prospect of financial support to help us move to a new permanent ground would give the club a new lease of life," he said.
"How happy the fans are about it depends on how far they have to travel. As long as it’s in Newport I don’t think it will be a problem."
Three possible sites had been suggested for the club’s new ground but nothing had yet been agreed.